words by Cal Roach
Howdy Milwaukee! We hate to encourage small-talking about the weather, but damn is it nice out! Could it be that spring has finally sprung? It’s just been so long since we could actually insist that you get out there and enjoy some tolerable temperatures. Just think, you can walk to your neighborhood music club even if it’s a mile or two away and not be totally uncomfortable after a minute out in the air. That’s cause for excitement around these parts, wouldn’t you say? So, read on for the usual roundup of record release parties, benefits for pillars of the community, birthday celebrations and more…
Tonight (Friday) there’s a somewhat eclectic bill of rock and roll bands going on at Cactus Club. The Championship, as we hope you all know by now, put out a terrific album last year called High Feather that continues the trend towards a more atmospheric style less pigeon-hole-able under the alt-country tag that the band came up on. These guys haven’t been playing out a ton to support the record, so we highly recommend catching them while you can. You’ll also get to see Head On Electric, a decidedly more aggressive, punky/garagey outfit likely to make earplugs a wise decision for the night. Plus, it’s the debut performance of Space Raft, featuring members of Temper Temper, Mystery Girls, Call Me Lightning, etc.
There’s also a record release party going on tonight at Linneman’s, and you even get a free CD with the admission price–and it’s a darn good CD, too. Calliope plays bluesy rock and roll with elements of funk, garage, psych–kinda the whole works, and this show marks the release of the band’s self-titled debut. Animals In Human Attire will play also, an appropriate combo as these guys are also liable to throw in influences from all across the rock spectrum in their spazzy live shows. Plus, The Zelda Routine, just in case you missed out on that orchestral Zelda concert that happened a couple months ago. This will be more of a rock and roll thing, though, featuring members of a few local bands playing video game music.
Saturday night is a good opportunity to get out and rock your buns off for a good cause. WMSE’s own Eric Von Munz (he of the Tuesday morning Vinyl Variety show) is recovering from injuries he suffered in a bike-related incident last year; unfortunately those medical bills can be tougher to overcome than the injuries, so some of Milwaukee’s best and LOUDEST bands are getting together at Cactus Club to raise some dough to help cover those costs. Heading up the bill is Call Me Lightning and its fierce, galloping anthems, about as must-see-live as MKE music gets. Then there’s Moon Curse; the stoner-metal band will be celebrating the vinyl release of its self-titled debut album from last June. Rounding things out with old-school hardcore, brace your eardrums for Burning Sons. It’s a terrific lineup and you can feel good about where your money’s going, that’s for sure.
Back in Riverwest, you could help Lisa Ridgely (she of “And The Fainting Room” fame!) celebrate her birthday when she plays a very intimate show in the cozy confines of Circle-A Café. It’s always an impressive feat when an actual band sets up in that dinky space, but in this case you should really drag along a few extra friends to fill the space where other musicians would normally cram themselves. Also playing music: a man who ought to be nominated as official spokesman for Riverwest (whether he lives there or not), Jonathan Burks. If you’re not familiar with his How I Roll album from last year, please proceed directly to Bandcamp without delay. We dare you to listen to this album and not crack a smile or downright burst out laughing.
Next Tuesday brings the freak-folk/indie-rock darlings of Grizzly Bear back to the Pabst Theater. While we’re not especially gung-ho on the band’s latest album, last year’s Shields, the harmonies of Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste combined with the impeccable musicianship of everyone involved has never yet failed to bowl us over live. There’s always a good chance that songs you didn’t care for before will be new favorites after you emerge from a Grizzly Bear show. Also playing: Canadian multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett.
There’s also a guaranteed great show going on Tuesday at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. It features a duo of virtuosos widely considered among the greatest players on Earth of their respective instruments. Chick Corea made his name playing with none other than Miles Davis in the 60s, then took his piano and continued on at the forefront of jazz fusion for the rest of time so far. When you think of the banjo, you think of one cat who has taken the instrument far, far beyond the confines of traditional banjo realms: Béla Fleck. These two made an album together in 2007 called The Enchantment; expect some very improvisational takes on this material and much more at this performance.